|The Texas Hill Country and Edwards Aquifer region is under assault from urban sprawl. Farms and ranches are being turned into subdivisions, shopping centers, and highways. This pattern of unsustainable growth is threatening to pollute and over-pump the watersheds that replenish the Edwards Aquifer and the Great Springs of Texas, including drinking water for over 1.7 million Texans. |
For decades, the rugged terrain and scarcity of water in the Hill Country kept urban and suburban development at bay, while the flatter, more fertile eastern edge of the Balcones Escarpment supplied resources for growth and development. But modern construction equipment, speculative real investment, and government subsidies are transforming the Hill Country into Everywhere U.S.A. All of these ingredients in urbanization come together in providing infrastructure for development: roads, sewer lines, and water lines. This infrastructure is often subsidized by us, the taxpayers.
New roadways built by TxDOT and water pipelines built by the Lower Colorado River Authority and Guadalupe Blanco River Authority into the Hill Country enable the development of large residential subdivisions, creating thousands of new commuters living on the Edward Aquifer. The residential growth brings increased traffic, sewage, and higher taxes to pay for schools and services.
We, the people, are literally paying for the pollution of our fragile aquifer when our tax dollars are spent paving the Hill Country and piping in water from elsewhere, and piping out sewage over the sensitive Edwards Aquifer ecosystem. Rapid urbanization also draws more water from our aquifers, threatening spring flows, agricultural users, and downstream needs, like coastal bays and estuaries.
What can we do to protect the Hill Country and Edwards Aquifer?
First, let's stop making matters worse and not build new highways and other infrastructure into the Hill Country and Edwards Aquifer. To use the motto from San Antonio: "Not on our aquifer; not with our money." Rainwater harvesting and aggressive conservation can provide adequate supplies for a growing population.
Second, let's preserve Hill Country ranches, farms, and open space. Farming and ranching families are under pressure to sell to developers. It would be far less expensive for tax-payers to invest in conservation easements, parks, and preserves over the Edwards Aquifer than it would be to pay for all of the roads and pipelines planned to serve new development. A bold effort across the Edwards Aquifer region is needed to preserve our Hill Country heritage and protect water quality and quantity in our Great Springs and beautiful Texas rivers.
What can you do to get involved? Join the Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance today. Sign our petition to elected officials demanding clean water for Texas.